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6,000 runners primed for Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5K tonight

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 09. 2017 9:12PM
Last year, despite a heat advisory, the Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5K Road Race still drew thousands of runners and spectators. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader File)

After months of planning the event, John Mortimer will get to enjoy his favorite part of the Cigna/Elliot Corporate 5K Road Race shortly before 6:20 p.m. today in Manchester.

Moments before the race begins, Mortimer will be on stage viewing the sea of what he expects will be about 6,000 runners and 2,000 spectators stretching down Elm Street.

“That’s a phenomenal sight that not too many other people get to see at that point,” Mortimer said.

Mortimer owns Millennium Running, which helps plan and put on the race. The former Londonderry High School and University of Michigan runner is proud to be involved in the race’s 25th installment this year.

The race began as the HealthSource 5K and evolved into the Cigna 5K before becoming the Cigna/Elliot 5K.

“It’s special for me as a former participant and winner of the event,” Mortimer said. “To come back and be able to carry on the legacy of such a great community event is rewarding for me personally.”

Mortimer said more than 100,000 people have participated in the race over the past 25 years. This year’s race will feature 249 teams representing various companies and Mortimer expects about 6,000 individuals will have signed up to run by the time the race begins.

The field will include 30-year-old Boston resident Brian Harvey, who won last year’s race with a time of 14 minutes, 42.5 seconds. Harvey also finished as the runner-up in 2014 and in fourth place in 2013. Mortimer expects additional elite runners will sign up today before the race.

Funds raised from the event will benefit the Elliot Regional Cancer Center. Mortimer said the amount raised this year is on track to exceed last year’s mark of $30,000.

There will be more than 125 cancer survivors sporting purple shirts running in the race tonight, Mortimer said.

One aspect of the race that will be different than last year’s will be the temperature. Harvey and the rest of last year’s field competed in 94-degree heat. The highest temperature for today is projected to be near 86 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“I think it’s always pleasant when you don’t need a fire truck spraying down runners at the end,” Mortimer said.

Mortimer is looking forward to more than just the expected improved weather conditions this year, though. From his position on stage, Mortimer will witness the race he once competed in and now helps put on reach the quarter-century mark.

“Twenty-five years is a huge milestone and to think over 25 years that (100,000) people have participated in the event — myself being one of them — it’s very special,” Mortimer said.

Manchester Road Races